Marijuana arrests are the engine driving the U.S. war on drugs. Nearly half of all drug arrests each year are for marijuana-related offenses
, the overwhelming majority of which are for personal possession.
These arrests fall disproportionately on blacks and Latinos, even though white people use marijuana at similar rates. Many of those who are arrested are saddled with a criminal conviction that can make it difficult or impossible to vote, obtain educational loans, get a job, secure housing, or even adopt a child. Additionally, the huge number of marijuana arrests each year usurps scarce law enforcement, criminal justice, and treatment resources at enormous cost to U.S. taxpayers.
The Drug Policy Alliance works to reduce the number of marijuana related arrests and associated penalties through crafting and advocating for legislation removing or reducing criminal penalties, initiatives making marijuana arrests the lowest law enforcement priority, and community based policy changes.
DPA also works to expose and reduce rampant, system-wide racial disparities in marijuana arrests. DPA has released reports documenting and detailing chilling disparities in New York City
and across California
and continues to raise awareness about the unique burden U.S. marijuana policy places on black and Latino communities
Marijuana prohibition has also caused incalculable violence and destruction
by fostering an illegal marijuana market. Organized crime, drug cartels, and gangs are the greatest financial beneficiaries of marijuana prohibition. In Mexico, illegal marijuana sales
have contributed to the loss of tens of thousands of lives.
Still A Tale of Two Cities: Young Black and Latino People Arrested at Higher Rates, Despite Young White People Using Marijuana at Higher Rates
Growing Number of Elected Officials and Advocates Call for New Statewide Approach to Marijuana Policies
New York —According to data just released by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, New York City marijuana arrests in 2015 dropped to under 17,000 for the first time since 1996. The 16,590 arrests for low-level marijuana possession in 2015 is a 42% decline from the 26,386 in 2014 and a 67% drop from the nearly 51,000 arrests in 2011.
Council Chairman Phil Mendelson Pushes Bill Through the Council Despite Strong Opposition from the Public and Councilmembers
DPA: Public Favors Legal Regulation of Marijuana Clubs, Not A Ban; District residents are still fighting to have their voices heard
The Council of the District of Columbia plans to vote tomorrow on legislation that restricts adult marijuana use in the District, prohibiting marijuana consumption everywhere but the home. The legislation is opposed by a majority of District residents and a growing number of councilmembers who oppose limiting consumption of marijuana to the home, favoring instead the creation of regulated places where adults can legally consume marijuana. Councilmembers are expected to offer amendments to the measure to allow a limited number of marijuana clubs in the District.
Findings Come on the Cusp of Initiative 71 Implementation Anniversary and Amid Heated Council Debate on Prohibiting Social Consumption of Marijuana
Majority Oppose Congressional Interference with DC Law, View Marijuana Reform as a Statehood Issue, Believe Mayor Bowser Should Move to Tax & Regulate Marijuana, Support Regulated Venues for Social Consumption
WASHINGTON, D.C. –A substantial majority of District residents believe Mayor Bowser should move forward with taxation and regulation of marijuana despite Congressional prohibition, according to a survey conducted over the weekend by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for the Drug Policy Alliance, DC Vote, DC Working Families and the Washington City Paper. 66 percent of respondents believe the Mayor should pursue a legal method (such as use of reserve funds) to implement taxation and regulation of marijuana in the District.
Drug Policy Alliance: “Chairman Mendelson and Mayor Bowser Rigged the Process Against the People”
Today the Council of the District of Columbia Committee on the Judiciary voted to dilute the will of District voters who approved Ballot Initiative 71 by passing unnecessary legislation largely outlawing adult marijuana use in the District. The passage of the controversial measure occurred under unusual circumstances. Almost no notice of the markup of the controversial bill was provided.
Landmark Case Could Pave the Way for Marijuana Legalization
Today, in a 4 to 1 vote, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that the prohibition of the consumption and cultivation of marijuana for personal use is unconstitutional. The Court determined that the prohibition of the consumption of marijuana – and its cultivation for non-commercial ends – violates the human right to the free development of one’s personality. This landmark case could lead to the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes if followed up with legislation.
Virginia Moving in Wrong Direction as U.S. States and Congress Reform Marijuana Laws
Black Virginians Arrested for Marijuana Possession at 3.3 Times the Rate of White Virginians, Despite Equal Rates of Marijuana Use
Report Released as Thousands Prepare to Gather Next Month in Arlington for World’s Largest Drug Policy Reform Conference
CORRECTION: Please note that a previous version of this press release contained an error that is corrected below. From 2003 to 2013 marijuana possession arrests in Virginia increased from 13,032 to 22,948, which is a 76% increase. The previous version said this represented only a 57% increase.
"Racial Disparities in Marijuana Arrests in Virginia (2003-2013)" reveals that marijuana possession arrests in Virginia have increased dramatically in recent years despite a nationwide trend in favor of reforming marijuana laws. Between 2003 and 2013, marijuana arrests in Virginia increased by 76%. Black Virginians have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana law enforcement despite constituting only 20% of the state's population and using marijuana at a similar rate as white Virginians.
Landmark Case Could Pave the Way for Marijuana Legalization
On Wednesday, Mexico’s Supreme Court will debate whether the prohibition of the consumption and cultivation of marijuana for personal use is unconstitutional. The Court will determine whether the prohibition of the consumption of marijuana – and its cultivation for non-commercial ends – violates the human right to the free development of one’s personality. This landmark case could lead to the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes if followed up with legislation.
Mayor’s Action Will Continue to Stretch Law Enforcement Beyond their Means
Santa Fe - Yesterday, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry vetoed legislation that would have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana for personal possession as well as a resolution that would have made marijuana a low priority for law enforcement.
Statement by Emily Kaltenbach:
Companion Resolution, Making Marijuana a Low Law Enforcement Priority Also Passes
Albuquerque, NM – Late last night, Albuquerque city council members voted 5-4 on party lines in favor of Ordinance 15-60 to remove criminal sanctions pertaining to possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia from the city’s municipal codes. The measure now heads to the Mayor who has the authority to veto the legislation.A companion resolution, also voted on tonight, that would make marijuana possession violations a low priority for the Albuquerque Police Department passed 6-3 with Republican Councilor Winter joining the Democrats in support.